Thursday, 20 July 2017

superstation or dateline: land of the lost

Before it was home to the CNN Center, the anchoring attraction of the downtown extension of the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia was fleetingly the World of Sid & Marty Krofft—one of the first all-indoors amusement parks.
Despite some of the frenetic, psychedelic rides and attractions, including a multi-storied, variegated carnival atmosphere and a colossal pin-ball game and appearances by signature television characters like the Banana Splits, Witchiepoo and HR Pufnstuf (whose fungibility prompted possibly the intellectual-infringement lawsuit ever with the Krofft’s franchise taking RonaldMcDonaldland to court) plus musical interludes, the park tragically did not prove the drawn that the producers and backers had hoped for—the whole experience could be taken in in just a few hours and after initial positive reception, families questioned whether it made sense to make a trek to a less than reputable section of downtown for less than a full day’s commitment.

Besides, the city’s zoo and aquarium were close by and cheaper alternatives and other amusement parks were cast out into the suburbs—with ample parking. Only six months after its grand opening in May of 1976, the park closed and it wasn’t until a more than a decade later when Ted Turner occupied the complex in 1987. Not many traces remain of the original arcade—other than, that is, the monumental, free-standing escalator (still the largest one in the world) that formerly delivered park guests to the highest levels of the Krofftian universe and are still part of the cable news network headquarters tour.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

frau holle/mother hulda

Fancy Notions presents a wonderful vintage, stop-motion adaptation of the Brothers Grimm morality, work-ethic tale Frau Holle—or as it’s sometimes rendered in English, Mother Hulda from Cornet studios (1976—purveyors of many fine instructional films as well, as featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000) called The Magic Well. With elements of the Cinderella story (Briar Rose), a studious, hardworking young girl is abused by her step-mother and expected to do all the household chores (whilst her biological daughter is pampered) and spin wool into yarn the rest of her hours until her fingers bled from the effort.

The story was told to Wilhelm Grimm by one interview subject named Henriette Dorothea Wild who lived near Kassel but came from Huguenot roots (famously members of the family accounted for other fairy tales like the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, Rumpelstiltskin, the Cat and Mouse in Partnership, etc.) whom the collector of fables later married. One day, spinning as was her custom outdoors near the well—she pricked her fingers and dropped the spindle while trying to dab the blood away. Fearful of the punishment that would ensue for having lost their chief means of livelihood down the well, the girl launched herself after it. The girl awoke to find herself in an enchanted land and did small kindnesses to some nearly over-baked breads and an over-burdened apple tree she encountered along her way to meet Frau Holle—a kindly old woman she served loyally without stint, cooking for her and making her bed—shaking her bedclothes caused the snows to come in Hesse—central Germany. Frau Holle ist für die Schneemenge im Winter verantwortlich, denn je gründlicher sie ihre Betten ausschüttelt, desto mehr schneit es auf der Erde. The girl leads a charmed life but does eventually grow homesick—to which Frau Holle gladly releases her and restores her to the cottage in the woods with the spindle and an abdundance of gold as if no time had passed at all. Seeing her step daughter so arrayed with gold, the conviving widow tosses the spindle back down the well, pricks her favourite daughter’s finger on a rose thorn and throws her down, rather fearlessly after. To learn more about etiquette, superstition and ephemera and how the other daughter fares, please visit Fancy Notions at the link above.

broadside, broadsheet

Via Design Observer—and though not as timely perhaps if it would have been a few weeks ago but noteworthy nonetheless, we learn that while not a signatory a woman—who was the first postmaster general and major press-agent in Baltimore—was bold enough to include her name just below the other John Hancocks (some more florid than others) on the Declaration of Independence.  Click to magnify and look to the very bottom of the page.

The copy in Thomas Jefferson’s own hand is probably the more famous version of the document that kicked off the Revolutionary War for Britain and its thirteen colonies but if it wasn’t for the commission by congress for the print-job from Mary Katherine Goddard’s publishing house in 1777 (this was a second-run but the first to disclose the names of the treasonous who remained anonymous shitposters previously) the rebellion might have never gotten into circulation. Of course, even this level of association was risky and Goddard intentional threw her support behind the Republic—serving congress and Constitutional Conventions with printing and distribution services as well as press-coverage throughout the war—until forced out of her office as postmaster and later as newspaper editor in favour of male stewardship. Some things behind the Beltway and beyond are sadly slow to change.

out to pasture

Professor and conceptual artist Pippin Bar has created a browser-based simulation, as Hyperallergic informs, that recaptures the tremolo sense of accomplishment of clicking things away and tedium of unrelenting but mild distractions of a real office-setting whose output is constantly under siege by work-motivators (commission-forming, superfluous meetings and other forms of pep-rallies) for human workers to wean themselves on once automation takes over these skeuomorphic tasks once and for all. While some workplace applications may have grown a bit more predictive and proactive in their behaviours since, it’s telling how the 1990s backdrop for It is as if you were doing work instantly dates it but there’s precious little process-improvement in the intervening decades and certainly not the sort that wins extra leisure-time (if anything, the opposite) for the worker. What do you think? Does it already feel like your job is keep up the pretence for a Potemkin office?


This piece of engraved cutlery bearing a benediction with musical notation to be sung before and after a meal as a digestif dates from Renaissance era Italy.
And while it may it would have been below the station of such a wealthy family who could afford such a fine table service to deign to slice their own food, the Victoria and Albert Museum helps us to imagine how such a repast might play out by setting the lyrics to a choral arrangement. Be sure to visit Colossal at the link up top to learn more and discover more artistic artefacts.


For World Emoji Day earlier this (we’re still on the hunt for whoever is behind these endless and arbitrary celebrations) Apple released a preview of the way it’s rendering some of the cache of newly approved icons from the late June meeting of the Unicode Consortium—in case some of this seems familiar, it ought to. Though it was mostly squeezing some extra mileage out of old news, there was one fine coda to the story that no one could have anticipated by reminding the world that added to our visual lexicon, there’s now a zombie—coinciding with the death of the filmmaker George A Romero who famously gave culture its undead touchstone first directing the independently produced Night of the Living Dead (zombies were never mentioned in that movie, only ghouls) in 1968 and five subsequent spin-offs plus hundreds of homages. Thank you for all the nightmarish inspiration and requiescat in pace (seriously, do that), Mister Romero.